Religion and Social Responsibility

THEME: Religion and Social Responsibility

Religious systems, movements and organizations constitute important resources for society, both intra-religiously as well as in the public and secular sphere. Not only do they form an important part of the social configuration of society. They also impact society socially or systemically, as well as individually. As such, the religions, and their orders or denominations, constitute an important socially-significant component of the diversity of organizations, movements, and structures that make up and accommodate people socially speaking. And, it is these social systems that not only shape society in their spheres of influence, but also impact individuals personally – with regard to the (religiously-informed or sanctioned) norms they inculcate and the values they teach and instil. The religions both pattern and structure society, and advance regimens of self-formation, attitudes, behaviour, activities and interactions.
Given these parameters for some aspects of the nature of religion, the religions in Africa have to operate in socio-cultural and socio-political contexts where they are faced with a wide variety of social challenges. Not least, these challenges emanate from conditions that are not of their own making, and are peculiar to a diversity of social forces constituting our postcolonial condition. These may be influenced, or directly or indirectly controlled and manipulated by either national, local and/ or international or global bodies, institutions, and realities. This requires critical engagement, both in religious and secular academic circles. Since the diverse religious systems and movements in Africa importantly impact political, economic, and governance systems, values, and norms we need to research this phenomenon, in terms of how it impacts the religions, and vice versa. This could be fruitfully explored in terms of the theorising of and attendant empirical investigation of the notion of "social responsibility".
Granted that “social responsibility” have become an important aspect of corporate processes, pursuits and branding since the 1950s, it has been and continues to be a central aspect of the customs, traditions, and practices of the religions. Even though not often stated in such terms, these form part of the religions and they manifest in a wide variety of ways. In the past, in sub-Saharan Africa, a multiplicity of religions and religious formations importantly shaped and influenced society – from the advocacy of the abolition of slavery, anti-colonial activism, the notion of the African renaissance, and the formation of indigenous political parties and movements, to the anti-colonial struggles for freedom, social justice and independence, the assertion of human and civil rights, postcolonial state formation and state development, and the constitution of post-independent constitutional democracies. Throughout these periods, the germination, growth and development of both political and a-political religious formations accompanied societal advancements and progress. As such, many of the religious formations are culturally and systemically hybrid, comprising of aspects from different sources and influences, constituting new blendings and fusions. More often than not, though, they are decisively influenced and shaped by their specific African contexts.
Against this brief exposition of some background information, we invite theoretically-founded papers on “Religion and Social Responsibility”. The hope is that this issue of Alternation will provide theoretical, methodological, but also practical information and tools that analyse and address this very important area for the study of religion in sub-Saharan, but more specifically, southern Africa. Amongst others, it may provide an important resource for the understanding but also knowledge production of the impact of religious organisations and movements in social and community formation and mobilisation, e.g. through the promotion and fostering of responsive (religious and political) leadership, accountable governance and responsible citizenship.

Proposed Themes (Alphabetically Organized)
Accountable Governance and Social Responsibility
Leadership and Social Responsibility
Religion and Responsible Citizenship
Religion and African State Formation
Religion and Human and Civil Rights
Religion and Social Reconstruction
Religion and Xenophobia/ Genocide
Religion, Social Responsibility and Africanisation
Religion, Social Responsibility and Human Dignity
Religion, Social Responsibility and HIV/ Aids/ STDs
Religion, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Societies
Religious Charity/ Generosity and Social Responsibility
Religious Collaboration/ Legitimation/ Endorsement and Politics
Religious Morality and Corruption
Religious Spirituality and Social Responsibility
Social Responsibility and Power
Social Responsibility and Religion in/ and Education
Women and Social Responsibility in Religion

Please use the Alternation style for article submissions. Cf. Guidelines for Authors at:
All papers should be sent to the guest editors, Prof J.A. Smit ( , Dr Lilian C. Siwila ( and Mr. D. Chetty (